LEVERAGING ON MALAYSIA’S RICH MIX OF GENDER, AGE AND ETHNICITY
Malaysia is a country rich with diverse cultures. This has become a significant part of its unique identity and market differentiation.
As the nation endeavours to become more competitive and investor-attractive, in October 2010, the Government launched the New Economic Model (NEM) Malaysia’s plan for economic growth in this globalised new world. Under the NEM, the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) is the focused, inclusive and sustainable implementation roadmap aimed at transforming our country into a high-income nation by the year 2020.
Since its launch, the ETP has undertaken a series of initiatives to accelerate transformation of the country’s economy. The need to leverage on Malaysia’s diversity has been identified as a key strategy in ensuring our nation sustains its competitive advantage.
To this end, the ETP recognises the necessity of better managing Malaysia’s diverse talent pool, and the importance of attracting, retaining, developing and advancing its human capital for a sustainable future. TalentCorp Malaysia was incorporated shortly following the launch of the ETP roadmap to address the talent needs of the ETP.
COMPARING THE PERFORMANCE OF HOMOGENOUS AND DIVERSE GROUP
Various studies on diversity in the workplace illustrate how diversity among employees, if managed well, will drive better business performance. Today’s corporations are built around groups that must find answers to innovative and complicated business issues.
Successful organisations recognise the value of bringing together diverse groups of people who incorporate a variety of backgrounds, ideas, and personalities.
One such study was conducted by Professor Joe Distefano of the International Institute of Management Development (IMD), who found that when well-managed, diversity will drive performance. Despite its obvious challenges, diversity offers multiple opportunities for businesses to become more competitive and successful.
Research has shown that diverse groups, when managed effectively, outperform groups of the highest performing individuals in terms of problem-solving. The reasoning behind this is essentially that experts – who tend to share a common set of cognitive ‘tools’ – provide an excellent but one-sided view of a problem.
In contrast, although the diverse group may have fewer “tools” on average than the individual experts, they make up for this lack by providing different perspectives and experiences, thereby increasing the likelihood of a holistic solution being reached.
DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE: TALENTCORP-PWC SURVEY OF MALAYSIAN LISTED COMPANIES
TalentCorp, since its establishment in January 2011, has led several initiatives to advocate diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace and to share best practices from multinationals and leading Malaysian employers.
Among these efforts are measures and incentives to retain women in the workforce by encouraging flexible work arrangements as well as work-life practices.
The recent TalentCorp – PwC Diversity in the Workplace Survey of public listed companies indicated an encouraging overall diversity in the areas of gender, age and ethnic mix – with 38% representation of women; 67% aged 40 years old and below; and an ethnic composition mirroring national population, with 66% of the workforce being Bumiputra.
However, the same survey suggests diversity at top management could be further improved, given a representation of only 24% women; 18% aged 40 years old and below; and only 34% Bumiputra.
EMBRACING THE DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION OF AGENDA
On Apr 9, 2014, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had a dialogue with leaders of the top Malaysian companies by market capitalisation.
At the dialogue, the Prime Minister called upon these corporate captains to ensure better representation and inclusiveness in terms of gender, ethnicity and age in their workforce, especially at top management level.
Moving forward, all listed companies will be required to establish and disclose in their annual reports their diversity policies, covering gender, ethnicity and age for board and management.
Malaysian listed companies are also encouraged to produce sustainability reports, in line with international best practices on reporting which include disclosures on composition of the workforce.
LEADING ORGANISATIONS IN MALAYSIA WITH A DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE WORKFORCE
Many global multinationals focus on Diversity and Inclusiveness as part of their business strategy and set scorecards to track diversity performance.
For many of these global organisations, such as PepsiCo, Kimberly-Clark, HP and IBM, these strategies have gained success in both increasing revenue and enabling a change of mindset and culture.
Here are some good examples in corporate Malaysia of companies who embrace diversity and have achieved admirable business performances.
PARTNER WITH TALENTCORP TO REACH OUT TO A MORE DIVERSE TALENT POOL
Given diversity of scholar pool both in terms of gender and ethnicity, through the Scholarship Talent Attraction and Retention (STAR) initiative, TalentCorp facilitates channelling of top Government scholars to serve their bonds with leading listed companies. Government scholars are allowed to serve their bonds to the Government by working at leading private sector companies. For more information, visit: www.talentcorp.com.my/companies/scholarship-talent-attraction-retention-programme-con/
Flexibility at work:
flexWorkLife.my is an initiative to introduce and enhance work life practices at the workplace, aimed towards better attracting and retaining women and the younger workforce. Visit the portal for more information: www.flexworklife.my
1. Get that flexijob: advertise jobs with flexible and part-time arrangements (at no cost through myStarjob.com)
2. Apply for tax incentives for the following initiatives:
• Hire and train women who have returned to the workforce
• Implement or enhance flexible work arrangements
• Establish a childcare centre or provide allowance for employees with children
3. Share and learn best-practices on flexible work arrangements, work-life benefits and family friendly facilities
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